B Inspired: GladRags

What’s your brand story/founder story?

GladRags was founded in 1993 by Brenda Mallory, who was cloth diapering her daughter when she had an aha! moment. She started making GladRags in her spare bedroom and quickly realized she was on to something. We’re still a small business with big ideas: to make washable cloth menstrual pads and menstrual cups go mainstream.


What is your brand mission/vision?

Our mission is to positively transform the experience of menstruation with high quality, sustainable menstrual products.


What sets you apart from other brands in your industry?

We think our commitment to our values is what sets us apart from other brands. We’re strongly committed to environmental and social justice, not just through our products but in every aspect of our business. Our B Corp certification is evidence of that!


What’s a little-known fact about your brand/founder?

A little-known fact about is how small we are! Thanks to our beautiful brand look (shoutout to the local design pros at Murmur Creative) and our company’s longevity, people think we must be a giant corporation. Nope—we’re a handful of ladies (and pugs) in a small office in Portland, Oregon.


What’s your favorite/most memorable customer story?

This one is memorable because it happens ALL. THE. TIME. Whenever we have a booth or a table at an event, invariably one person will come up to us and say, “Wow! Do you know I’ve been using the same GladRags I’ve had since the early 1990s?” Every year that goes by, I think this will be the year when finally people will have worn out their original GladRags but I have yet to be correct!


Tell us about your ambassador program?

Using cloth pads or a menstrual cup can dramatically change your relationship to your body and your period, so our products inspire a lot of passionate customers. Our ambassadors help to spread the word about reusable menstrual products and we support them through fun challenges, product samples, education, and more.


When and why did you decide to become a B Corp?

We had been thinking about becoming a B Corp for a while, but we finally decided to complete the process in 2012 when we realized that we essentially already were a B Corp, we just needed to formalize and document our processes!


What was the most challenging part of the B Corp certification process for you?

As a small team, finding the time to devote to certification was the most difficult part of the process.


What were the biggest changes you made (if any) in the process of becoming a B Corp? 3

Becoming a B Corp was great motivation for us to formalize more of our “unspoken” norms or address situations that hadn’t yet occurred. For example, we’ve never had an employee who was pregnant while working at GladRags, so we didn’t have a formal maternity leave policy. Becoming certified really opened our eyes to future possibilities that we should define now before the situation ever even occurs.


What has been the most meaningful influence/impact of B Corp on your company?

The B Corp community has been wonderful to be a part of. Finding another B Corp in the natural products industry is like running into an old friend! Internally, our team is always considering our B Corp certification when making decisions—whether they’re saying “I don’t know if that’s really in line with our B Corp values” or “here’s a new idea for how we could be a better B Corp” I know it’s on their minds!


What would you like to say to the business leaders of the world considering becoming a B Corp?

Take the quick assessment and see how your business stacks up! When we first took the assessment, we were surprised that we didn’t immediately have the highest score because we felt like we were doing such a good job. It takes work, but it’s worth it. Also, ask for help! The people at B Lab are super knowledgeable and responsive.


What is a B Corp or nonprofit that inspires you – and why?

Bamboo Sushi here in Portland does an amazing job of educating every single one of its employees about sustainable fishing practices and other aspects of its B Corp values. Their employees are so clearly passionate about the mission, and that in turn educates and excites the customer. Plus, they have amazing sushi!


If you could redesign any one thing (product, process, problem, etc.) in the universe, what would it be, how would you improve it and why does it matter?

I would change how we teach kids about menstruation. I’d stop separating kids by gender when teaching about “your changing body” which only reinforces the idea that how our bodies work is somehow shameful. Boys, girls, and gender non-conforming individuals all deserve to learn about all types of bodies. Normalizing menstruation is important because this is a natural process that occurs monthly for roughly half of the population. Even here in the US, some people suffer due to lack of education and access to safe menstrual care products. How can we solve this problem if we don’t understand how menstruation works and can’t even discuss periods without snickering?


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